Generational Home Searches: How Does Each Generation Differ?

How do you search for a new home? Do you drive through neighborhoods looking for “for sale” signs, use an app on your phone, search the internet, or use a real estate agent? If you’re like most homebuyers, you use a combination of ways. But according to a 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, the generation you belong to shapes the way you search for a home. However, every generation from Gen Z to the silent generation shares more similarities than is often thought. For example, both older and younger homebuyers view homes both online and in-person, and an online search is the first step for everyone.

But despite the generational differences in how people search for a home, a real estate agent or broker remains the number one source for buying a home. For this reason, it’s important for real estate agents to understand how each generation searches for a home and their needs and preferences. Following is a breakdown.

Gen Z (ages 18 to 21)

New to this year’s National Association of Realtors (NAR), data for this generation is too small to list unique characteristics. Look for larger samples in future reports.

Millennials (ages 22-40)

At 37 percent, the largest number of homebuyers are millennials. They’re more likely to discuss the buying process with friends and relatives, and the number of first-time buyers is higher among younger millennials (age 22 to 30) at 82 percent. Younger millennials also tend to only view a home online after seeing it in person. Older millennials (31-40) spend the longest length of time looking for a home at an average of 10 weeks.

Gen X (ages 41-55)

Gen X ers are the largest group of buyers. Photos are the most useful website feature for nearly 90 percent of all buyers under the age of 57, and Gen X ers place the highest value on virtual tours. They’re also more likely to use a mobile device. Since they’re more likely to have children at home, they buy larger houses at an average of 2,100 square feet.

Baby Boomers (ages 56-74)

Babyboomers under the age of 65 have the most diverse reasons to look for a home including a desire to own their own, live in a better area, and be closer to family. They’re the most likely to purchase a home from new construction communities.

Baby boomers aged 65 and older were more likely to use a real estate agent as a first step in the search for a home. They’re more likely to look for a home at a further distance from their present residence, and they have the highest number of single females that buy homes.

Baby boomers of all ages are more likely to remain in their homes at an average of 20 years.

The Silent Generation (ages 75-95)

Other than Gen Z, this generation makes up the smallest group of buyers at 5 percent. They’re the most likely to drive past homes first, and along with younger millennials, they’re more likely to only view a home online after seeing it in person. Since the silent generation is likely to have retired, they have the lowest income and are the most likely to downsize.